After historic progress for the LGBT community under the Obama Administration, it seems that our nation’s 45th President, and our Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, are determined to put America’s students and their real educational concerns on the back burner.
The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights.
It’s the first time officials have asserted this position publicly as an interpretation of law. No formal announcement has been made.
For nearly a year, the Trump administration took a less clear stance, with officials saying they were studying the issue. When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would “consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was “permissible” for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student’s restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students.
For the past three weeks, BuzzFeed News called and emailed Education Department officials attempting to pinpoint the agency’s position.
Finally on Thursday, Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.
Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”
This represents a complete and total about face from policies of the Obama Administration, which sought to protect the rights and safety of all students, including the Transgender community. Here’s an excerpt of a joint memo from the Departments of Justice and Education, dated May 16th, 2016…
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies. I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.”
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow. And we know that teachers and administrators care deeply about all of their students and want them to succeed in school and life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our guidance sends a clear message to transgender students across the country: here in America, you are safe, you are protected and you belong – just as you are. We look forward to working with school officials to make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all of our children.”
“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity. We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”
Yet more confirmation that the Trump Administration is not only out of step with America’s school system, but that they seem to only care about the needs of certain American students. Of course, given how much of our tax money is being given out the door to the 1 percent via the massive Tax Cut and Jobs Act, I guess sweeping Transgender Americans under the rug isn’t much of a surprise.
Elections have consequences folks. And in this case, they are quite shameful.
So PLEASE don’t forget to VOTE in the upcoming March 6th Primary Election, and the November 6th General Election. The only way to protect our students is to send lawmakers to Washington that care about them, which doesn’t seem to be getting done with the Republican majority. Texans have a say on decisions like this one in November, as one of the Senators that not only supported Trump, but voted to confirm Betsy Devos, Ted Cruz, is up for reelection.
The first step in reversing tragedies like this one is to LOOSE CRUZ THIS NOVEMBER.
With all of the focus that the Western media is focusing on Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, it’s important to remember that the Anti-Gay world stretches FAR beyond just the Kremlin. This compilation from Buzzfeed (via an International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association study) is a true shocker, compiling the 76 countries around the globe that officially criminalize homosexuality. A painful reminder that many countries that Americans travel to for tourist destinations… Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, and Mauritius to name a few… are not as safe as they seem for the LGBT community.
However, knowledge is the first step in safety. I encourage everyone to take a look at this list and get a better understanding of what the world-wide equality movement is facing. I also hope that American citizens will consider these laws as they make decisions on where to spend their time and money abroad.
Here are the findings directly re-posted from Buzzfeed…
1. Afghanistan — Imprisonment. During Taliban rule, same-sex activity in Afghanistan could lead to the death penalty. The situation has improved, relatively speaking, as a conviction for “pederasty” — used to describe all homosexual relations, regardless of the persons’ ages — results in a “long” prison sentence.
2. Algeria — Fines and a jail sentence of up to three years. Article 338, the Algeria law that directly addresses homosexuality, states: “Anyone guilty of a homosexual act is punishable with imprisonment of between 2 months and two years, and with a fine of 500 to 2000 Algerian dinars [roughly $6 to $24]. If one of the participants is below 18 years old, the punishment for the older person can be raised to 3 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 dinars [roughly $124].”
3. Angola — Fine and jail. Forced labor camp for habitual offenders. Though Angola ratified a new constitution in 2010 that addresses the equal rights of all citizens, its penal code still contains vaguely worded language against people who practice “acts against nature,” which in practice include homosexuality and cross-dressing.
4. Antigua and Barbuda — Up to 15 years in prison. “Buggery,” a common term for same-sex relations in the Caribbean, comes with a possible 15-year jail sentence in Antigua and Barbuda. The lesser charge of “serious indecency” applies to sexual acts other than sodomy, punishable by up to five years in prison by consenting adults.
5. Bangladesh — Fine and up to 10 years in prison. According to Section 377 in Bangladesh’s penal code: “Whoever voluntary has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
6. Barbados — Up to life in prison. According to Barbados’ Sexual Offenses Act of 1992, “Any person who commits buggery is guilty of an offense and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.” The lesser, related charge “serious indecency” can result in up to 10 years in prison.
7. Belize — 10 years in prison. Having sex with a person of the same sex is considered an “unnatural crime” in Belize and comes with a 10-year prison sentence.
8. Bhutan — Between one month and one year in jail. For both men and women in Bhutan, “unnatural sex” and “sexual conduct that is against the order of nature” is a petty misdemeanor that calls for a jail sentence of at least one month.
9. Brunei — Fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years. “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine,” according to Chapter 22 of Brunei’s penal code, last revised in 2001.
10. Botswana — A jail sentence of up to five years. Though Botswana banned anti-gay employment discrimination as of 2010, laws against “unnatural offenses” and “indecent practices” remain on the books. As in many countries, it is unclear how often these laws are actually enforced. In 2011, Pono Moatlhodi, a member of Botswana’s National Assembly, reportedly said, “I don’t like those gay people and will never tolerate them. They are demonic and evil.”
11. Burundi — Fine and up to two years in jail. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. State Department, that year “no one was arrested or prosecuted” under anti-gay law; that said, they held that, “The government neither supported nor hindered local LGBT organizations…” But changing the law is, of course, only one aspect of LGBT equality. As a trans woman told the Thomas Reuters Foundation in May 2013, “In Burundi, if they know you are gay, they kill you. If they see you on the street, they stone you. They come and shoot you in the night.”
12. Cameroon — Fine and up to five years in jail. In July 2013, Eric Ohena Lembembe, a prominent LGBT activist and journalist, was found tortured and murdered at his home. The tragic news crystallized the impact of state-sanctioned homophobia on Cameroon’s LGBT community; according to one of his former colleagues, arrests are frequent.
13. Comoros — Fine and a jail sentence of up to five years. Comoros, an island nation in East Africa, bans same-sex activity, which it terms “improper” and “unnatural.”
14. Dominica — Up to 25 years in prison and a possible psychiatric treatment. In addition to jail sentences for “gross indecency” (maximum 10 years) and “buggery” violations (maximum 25), the island of Dominca could also require “ex-gay” therapy. As noted in Section 16 of the country’s penal code: “Any person who attempts to commit the offense of buggery, or is guilty of an assault with the intent to commit the same is guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for four years and, if the Court thinks it, the Court may order that the convicted person be admitted to the psychiatric hospital for treatment.”
15. Egypt — Not technically illegal to be gay, but… …you can be arrested for breaking the country’s laws on sexual conduct. Police raids and mass arrests are not uncommon. For example, in 2012, a group of men were arrested and charged with “practicing debauchery.”
16. Eritrea — A jail sentence of up to three years. Since 1957, Eritrea’s penal code has banned “unnatural carnal offenses” with a jail sentence of between 10 days and three years.
17. Ethiopia — A year in prison or “in grave cases, rigorous imprisonment” of up to 10 years. “The punishment shall be simple imprisonment for not less than one year, or, in grave cases, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, where the criminal: a) takes unfair advantage of the material or mental distress of another or of the authority he exercises over another by virtue of his position, office or capacity as guardian, tutor, protector, teacher, master or employer, or by virtue of any other like relationship, to cause such other person to perform or to submit to such an act; or b) makes a profession of such activities within the meaning of the law.”
18. Gambia — Up to 14 years in prison. Gambia’s anti-gay law, which was amended in 2005, makes it illegal to have “carnal knowledge of [another] person through the anus or the mouth.” The law also bans “any other homosexual act.”
19. Ghana — A prison term between five and 25 years. In 2011, Paul Evans Aidoo, a government minister, called on Ghana’s intelligence services to track down and arrest all gays and lesbians. “All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in society,” said Aidoo on a popular radio station in Ghana’s capital, Accra. “Once they have been arrested, they will be brought before the law.” Prominent religious figures in Ghana have condemned homosexuality as recently as June 2013. The country’s criminal code, amended in 2003, considers “unnatural carnal knowledge” to be a first-degree felony.
20. Grenada — Up to 10 years in prison. In Grenada in 2011, a 41-year-old man was arrested after being caught having sex with a 17-year-old man, even though 16 is the age of consent in Grenada and the sex was reportedly consensual. The penalty for the seldom-enforced anti-sodomy law, called an “unnatural connexion” [sic], is 10 years in prison.
21. Guinea — Fine and a jail sentence of between six months and three years. As is the case in many countries where same-sex activity is banned, in Guinea, “If the act was committed with a minor under 21 years of age, the maximum penalty must be pronounced.”
22. Guyana — Two years to life in prison. In Guyana, same-sex activity between women is legal, but for men: “Any male person, who in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission, or procures or attempts to procure the commission, by any male person, of an act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of misdemeanor and liable to imprisonment for two years.” Also, “Everyone who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature, shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.”
23. Jamaica — Up to 10 years in prison. Jamaican law terms “buggery” an “abominable” crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Just a few weeks ago, a teenager was brutally murdered after being caught cross-dressing at a street party in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The tragedy once again underscores how state-sanctioned homophobia is only part of the hostility LGBT people face across the world.
24. Iran — Death penalty. Even with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who infamously declared during a 2007 appearance at Columbia University, “In Iran, we don’t have gays”) no longer in office, Iran remains one of the most anti-gay nations on earth. Men convicted of sodomy — defined under the Islamic Penal Code of 1991 as “sexual intercourse with a male” — face death, the method of which is determined by a Shariah (Islamic law) judge. A man just kissing another man is punishable by “60 lashes.”
25. Kenya — Between 14 and 21 years in prison. The wording of Kenya’s penal code regarding “carnal knowledge” is fairly extensive. One of the three sections that address same-sex activity states: “Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.”
26. Kirbati — Up to 14 years in prison. In Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, same-sex relations between women are legal but similar relationships between men are considered a felony. “Buggery” is punished by up to 14 years; “gross indecency between males” up to five.
27. Kuwait — Up to seven years in jail. In Kuwait, “Consensual intercourse between men of full age (from the age of 21) shall be punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years.”
28. Lebanon — Up to one year in prison. In late July 2012, 36 men were arrested during a police raid in Beirut and forced to undergo intrusive examinations in order to “prove” whether they had engaged in anal sex, which can result into a year of jail time. That said, the Lebanese Psychiatric Society’s declaration this July that homosexuality was not an illness was met with optimism.
29. Liberia — Up to one year in jail. In Liberia, “voluntary sodomy” is defined as “deviate sexual intercourse” between human beings who are not (living as) husband and wife, that consists of contact between penis and anus, mouth and penis, or mouth and vulva.” And it’s a first-degree misdemeanor.
30. Libya — Up to five years of jail time.AP The country’s anti-gay law was last amended in 1973. Recent political upheaval has made the status of LGBT life all the more precarious. In November 2012, an extremist group claiming to be a part of Libya’s Ministry of the Interior raided a private party in a suburb outside of Tripoli and arrested 12 gay men who were then threatened with mutilation and possible execution.
31. Malawi — Up to 14 years in prison and possible corporal punishment. While same-sex relations between men have long been illegal, the same between women were criminalized in 2011, punishable by up to five years in prison. After taking office in 2012, President Joyce Banda called for an end to these laws. Facing steep opposition, she’s since distanced herself from this historic stance, though has enforced a moratorium on prosecution.
32. Malaysia — Up to 20 years in prison and possibly whipping. Malaysia’s penal code notes: “Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be liable to whipping.” Further, several states have enacted Shariah, criminalizing homosexual acts for both men and women, the penalties of which (imprisonment, lashings) can be applied in addition.
33. Maldives — House arrest for women; banishment or whippings for men. The Maldives follow Shariah, which criminalizes homosexual acts. For women, a conviction results in house arrest for nine months to a year; for men, a conviction results in banishment for nine months to a year or a whipping of up to 30 strokes.
34. Mauritania — Death penalty by public stoning. Mauritania is one of four African countries where same-sex relations between men can result in the death penalty. According to Article 308, “Any adult Muslim man who commits an indecent act or an act against nature with an individual of his sex will face the penalty of death by public stoning.”
35. Mauritius — Up to five years in jail for men; same-sex relations between women are legal. Despite its wording, Mauritius’ law regarding sodomy and bestiality apparently only applies to men: “Any person who is guilty of the crime of sodomy or bestiality shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 5 years.” There has been recent debate about repealing the law altogether.
36. Morocco — Fine and between six month and three years in jail. In May 2013, two men were arrested while having sex and are currently awaiting trial in Temara, Morocco. They face a possible jail sentence of three years.
37. Mozambique — Probation or six month to three years of forced labor in an agricultural colony. Mozambique inherited its anti-sodomy law from the colonial influence of Portugal: “Articles 70 and 71(4°) provide for the imposition of security measures on people who habitually practice acts against nature. The security measures may include: a bond of good behavior, being put on probation for a certain period, or even internment in a workhouse or agricultural colony (from 6 months to 3 years).”
38. Myanmar — Fine and up to 10 years in prison. According to Myanmar’s penal code, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animals shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall be liable to fine.”
39. Namibia — Undetermined prison sentence. According to the ILGA’s report on Namibia: “Sodomy remains a crime in Nambia according to the Roman-Dutch common-law, which was imposed by the South Africans. Common-law is a legal tradition based mainly on precedent court verdicts [which is] why there is no codified sodomy provision in Namibia.”
40. Nauru — Hard labor up to 14 years. Section 208 of Nauru’s criminal code states: “Any person who: (1) Has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (2) Has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (3) Permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for fourteen years.”
41. Nigeria — Death penalty for men and whipping and/or imprisonment for women in 12 northern Nigerian states. Up to 14 years in jail in the rest of the country. Several states in the northern part of Nigeria operate under Shariah, which rules homosexuality as punishable by death for men and whipping and/or imprisonment for women. Throughout the rest of the country, anti-gay laws carry a possible 14-year jail sentence (or seven for “attempt”). As of June 2013, it is also illegal for Nigerians to join “gay clubs or organizations,” punishable by up to 10 years.
42. Oman — Imprisonment from six months to three years. In Oman: “Anyone who commits erotic acts with a person of the same sex shall be sentenced to imprisonment from six months to three years. The suspects of homosexual or lesbian intercourse shall be prosecuted without a prior complaint, if the act results in a public scandal. The suspects of lesbian intercourse among ascendants, descendants or sisters shall only be prosecuted upon a complaint from a relative or a relative by marriage forth-degree [sic] removed.”
43. Pakistan — Between two and 10 years in prison. As noted in a 2012 New York Times profile on gay life in Pakistan, despite the country’s sodomy laws, “the reality is far more complex, more akin to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ than a state-sponsored witch hunt. For a long time, the state’s willful blindness has provided space enough for gays and lesbians. They socialize, organize, date and even live together as couples, though discreetly.”
44. Palau — Up to 10 years in prison. On the South Pacific island of Palau, according to their National Penal Code: “Every person who shall unlawfully and voluntarily have any sexual relations of an unnatural manner with a member of the same or the other sex … shall be guilty of sodomy,” sodomy being any “abominable and detestable crime against nature.”
45. Papua New Guinea — Up to 14 years in prison. In Papau New Guinea, it is an “unnatural offense” for a person to permit “a male person to sexually penetrate him or her against the order of nature,” and the penalty is imprisonment for up to 14 years. Men are also liable to a possible three years in prison for “indecent sexual practices between males.”
46. Qatar — Up to seven years in prison (and for Muslims, corporal punishment or death). Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 so, just as Russia has come under fire for its anti-gay laws due to the Winter Olympics, this Middle Eastern country is likely headed for controversy as well. For the time being, according to Qatar’s penal code, the penalty for gay sex is up to seven years in jail. The country’s Muslim population is also subject to Shariah, which punishes homosexual activity outside of marriage by death, and sexual acts by non-married people with flogging.
47. Samoa — Up to seven years in prison. Samoa is another country in which only same-sex relations between men are illegal. The sodomy law even specifies that, “It is no defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.”
48. São Tomé and Príncipe — Hard labor. According to the ILGA’s 2013 report on São Tomé and Principe’s penal code, “People who habitually practice acts against the order of nature, stating such people shall be sent to labor camps.”
49. Saudi Arabia — Banishment, whipping, and death by public stoning. According to the 2013 ILGA report, “There is no codifed Penal Law in Saudi-Arabia. Instead, the country applies strict Islamic Sharia law. According to the interpretation sodomy is criminalized. For a married man the penalty is death by stoning, while the penalty for an unmarried man is 100 blows of the whip as well as banishment for a year. For a non-Muslim, who commits sodomy with a Muslim, the penalty is death by stoning. Moreover are all sexual relations outside of marriage illegal in Saudi-Arabia according to the Sharia law, including sexual relations between women.”
50. Senegal — Fine and between one and five years of imprisonment. President Obama visited Senegal in June 2013 and called the Supreme Court’s striking down the Defense of Marriage Act a “victory for American democracy” during a speech that urged African nations to end state-sanctioned homophobia. Senegalese President Macky Sall responded by saying that his country was not homophobic, but added, “We are not ready to decriminalize homosexuality.”
51. Seychelles — Up to 14 years in prison. Though in the last few years, the country has passed anti-discrimination employment law, Section 151 of the country’s criminal code makes it a felony to have “carnal knowledge” that is “against the order of nature.”
52. Sierra Leone — Life in prison. In May 2013, Pride Equality and Dignity Association released the first long-term report on LGBT life in Sierra Leone. According to the study, which included 80 respondents, “99% had experienced at least one form of harassment and discrimination” because of their sexuality or gender expression. The country’s anti-gay law can result in life imprisonment for people convicted of “buggery” (a synonym for sodomy).
53. Singapore — Up to two years in jail; same-sex relations between women are legal. In April 2013, the highest court in Singapore threw out a challenge to the country’s anti-sodomy law, saying it was a decision best left to the legislature. An LGBT activist in the country told AFP, “[The law] doesn’t just criminalise gay men. It justifies a wide range of abusive behaviours and institutionalises discrimination against LGBT people. It sends the wrong signal to the world that Singapore is a backward and regressive state.”
54. Solomon Islands — Up to 14 years in prison. The Solomon Islands ban both “indecent practices between persons of the same sex” and “unnatural offenses” — “buggery.” A man convicted of the former faces up to seven years in prison, the latter, 14.
55. Somalia — Possible death penalty by stoning in southern parts of the country; elsewhere, a jail sentence of up to three years. Throughout most of the country, sodomy is punishable by up to three years in jail. Parts of the south are governed by Shariah. According to The Advocate, a gay teenager was stoned to death by militant Islamists 50 miles outside of Somalia’s capital in March 2013. The village was forced to watch.
56. South Sudan — Fine and up to 10 years in jail. Section 248 of the relatively new country’s penal code notes whoever “has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person and whoever allows any person to have such intercourse with him or her commits an offence, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and may also be liable to a fine.” It also specifies that penetration is sufficient enough to constitute a violation.
57. Sri Lanka — Fine and up to 10 years in prison. In Sri Lanka, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment that may extend to ten years and shall also be punished with fine…”
58. St. Kitts and Nevis — Up to 10 years in prison, possibly with hard labor. The ILGA’s 2013 analysis of St. Kitts and Nevis’ “Offenses Against the Person Act” notes that, “The Revised Laws prescribe terms of imprisonment of up to ten years, with or without hard labor, upon conviction for engaging in anal sex, described as “the abominable crime of buggery.” Attempted “buggery” is sanctioned by up to four years imprisonment, with or without hard labor, as is “any indecent assault upon any male person.” The latter, which is in no way defined, is subject to arbitrary interpretation. It could potentially encompass any behavior perceived as a “homosexual advance.”
59. St. Lucia — Up to 10 years in prison. In 2011, after three gay tourists visiting from the United States were robbed and assaulted during a trip to St. Lucia, the country’s Tourism Minister apologized and insisted that the attack, which the victims reportedly felt was a gay bashing, was “unacceptable behavior.” Even still, the country’s laws against “buggery” — between consenting parties — are less than comforting. A conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Sexual indecency is punishable for up to five.
60. St. Vincent and the Grenadines — Up to 10 years in prison. In St. Vincent, “Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for five years.” A “buggery” conviction can result in a 10-year prison sentence.
61. Sudan — Five years in prison, life imprisonment, flogging, and/or death penalty. According to Sudanese law, “Any man who inserts his penis or its equivalent into a woman’s or a man’s anus or permitted another man to insert his penis or its equivalent in his anus is said to have committed Sodomy.” The first time a person is convicted under this law, he will be flogged with 100 lashes and potentially sent to prison sentenced to five years in prison; the second, 100 more lashes and a certain prison term, again up to five years. A third conviction can result in life in prison or the death penalty.
62. Swaziland — Fine and a jail sentence of up to two years. Anti-sodomy laws dating from early 20th century colonialism are still on the books in Swaziland, with fines and jail sentences as punishment. According to a 2012 report on LGBT life in the southern African country, “King Mswati has reportedly called same-sex relationships “satanic,” and Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has called homosexuality “an abnormality and a sickness.”
63. Syria — Up to three years in prison. Despite Syria’s current upheaval, for the time being, the country’s anti-sodomy laws remain in effect. As such, any kind of “unnatural sexual intercourse” is against the law with a possible jail sentence of up to three years.
64. Tanzania — A minimum prison sentence of 20 years; possible life sentence. Tanzania’s penal code forbids persons from having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” Those convicted face a harsh minimum sentence: “Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified under section 154 commits an offence and shall on conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty years.” In some instances, Tanzanians could face life in prison for a “sexual offence” conviction.
65. Togo — Fine and one to three years in jail. As outlined in Togo’s penal code: “Impudent acts or crimes against the nature with an individual of the same sex are punished with imprisonment from one to three years and 100,000–500,000 franc in fines.” (About $200 to $1,000.)
66. Tonga — Up to 10 years in prison and “whipping for certain offenses.” Tonga, an island nation near Fiji, not only bans sodomy but has very specific wording about how to define it. According to the country’s law, last updated in 1988, “On the trial of any person upon a charge of sodomy or carnal knowledge it shall not be necessary to prove the actual emission of seed but the offense shall be deemed complete on proof of penetration only.”
67. Trinidad and Tobago — Up to 25 years in prison. According to a 2013 survey by Caribbean Development Research Services (or Cadres), slightly more than half of Trinidadians regard themselves as tolerant or accepting of the LGBT community. The survey was reportedly the first of its kind in the country. Laws against “buggery,” holdovers from early 19th century colonial influence, are still on the books in Trinidad.
68. Tunisia — Up to three years in prison; same-sex activity between women is legal. In April 2013, Mounir Baatour, a Tunisian opposition party leader, was arrested and charged with sodomy. He had allegedly been caught having sex with a young man at a hotel. Critics of the incident (and the law itself) have said that Tunisia’s sodomy law is being used as a political tool. The case is currently being appealed.
69. Tuvalu — Up to 14 years in prison. In the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, buggery is punishable with up to 14 years in prison, and “unnatural offenses” can result in a seven-year prison sentence.
70. Turkmenistan — Up to five years in jail for men but not women. Turkmenistan’s anti-sodomy law, which only applies to men and was last updated in 1998, calls for up to two years’ imprisonment.
71. Uganda — 14 years to life in prison. Uganda (along with Tanzania, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Mauritania) is arguably one of the most dangerous countries for LGBT Africans. At present, gays face 14 years to life. Since 2009, there has been a push to enact an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” that will impose even harsher penalties — and potentially death. Despite this very hostile environment, some queer Ugandans have made notable efforts in the last few years to gain visibility in the international community.
72. United Arab Emirates — Various punishments, possibly a death sentence. As noted in the 2013 ILGA report on state-sponsored homophobia, “All sexual acts outside of heterosexual marriage are banned in the United Arab Emirates. However, whether sodomy is punished with death penalty remains in dispute. The Arabic text of article 354 is ambiguously phrased and can be translated in different ways. Some sources indicate that the article punishes rape of a woman or forced sodomy with a man, while others indicate that it punishes rape on women and sodomy between men.” Additionally, anti-sodomy laws exist within the various Emirates; those convicted could be subjected to both punishments.
73. Uzbekistan — Up to three years in prison for men. In Uzbekistan, “Besoqolbozlik” or “voluntary sexual intercourse between two male individuals,” is punishable by up to three years in prison.
74. Yemen — Imprisonment up to seven years, whipping with 100 lashes, or death by stoning, depending on gender and circumstances. Obviously, state-sanctioned homophobia is not unique, but Yemen’s laws against gays and lesbians are especially disturbing: Article 264: “Homosexuality between men is defined as penetration into the anus. Unmarried men shall be punished with 100 lashes of the whip or a maximum of one year of imprisonment, married men with death by stoning.” Article 268: “Homosexuality between women is defined as sexual stimulation by rubbing. The penalty for premeditated commission shall be up to three years of imprisonment; where the offense has been committed under duress, the perpetrator shall be punishable with up to seven years detention.”
75. Zambia — 15 years to life in prison. As per a 2005 amendment of the penal code, Section 155, persons found guilty of committing “unnatural offences” are sentences “to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and may be liable to imprisonment for life.” An attempt to commit such an offense is punishable by seven to 14 years.
76. Zimbabwe — Fine and up to 10 years in prison for men; same-sex activity between women is legal Though male homosexuality was already illegal in his country, in 2006 President Robert Mugabe made the law even more stringent, forbidding even holding hands, hugging, and kissing. His reelection this week has LGBT activists even more nervous; in June he said anti-gay laws were “too lenient” and even said he’d support the beheading of gays.
Until one week ago, most people in the United States had never even heard of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. I’ll even wager that most Texans didn’t know who she was. But they’re sure starting to find out now. In that 168 hours, her Twitter account skyrocketed from 1,200 follower to upwards of 127,000. She’s been interviewed by every national news network under the sun, and even gotten major write-ups in international papers like the Guardian and Le Figaro. It’s sufficient to say, that over the last week, she became a Democratic superstar and a national sensation.
I guess that’s what a well-publicized 13 hour filibuster can do for you. When you get #StandWithWendy trending on Twitter, your name becomes known. And sure, I agree with Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post… Wendy Davis shouldn’t be praised solely because of one filibuster. But it seems that the national media has done what they typically do.. focus on the event to build the person, instead of starting with the person to build the event. And as the national media’s attention shifts, they have started to sour on Davis’ prospects, partly due to a new PPP poll that predicts a slim chance of her making it to the Governor’s mansion. Luckily the GOP is going right along with them on this, and that will prove to be a big mistake. People need to know that Wendy Davis isn’t your bargain basement politician… she’s a real political fighter, with real guts.
Wendy Davis is someone that has beaten the odds her entire life. She was a poor, single mother at the age of 19, with no college education. But even then, Davis saw that her life could be more that her immediate surroundings. She put herself through community college, earned a scholarship to Texas Christian University, graduated with High honors, and went on graduate from Harvard Law School. All the while, raising a family. When she finally decided to run for State Senator of District 10, Davis once again faced a tough road. As a Democrat in a solidly Republican district, she beat the male, Republican incumbent Kim Brimer in a nail-biter race. Also worth noting, her former City Council seat is currently held by the wildly popular LGBT politician Joel Burns.
So that’s how Davis became a State Senator in 2008. Most GOP operatives blamed her victory on the “Obama wave” (eventhough John McCain clearly won her district) and saw Davis as a novelty that would be easily beaten in 2012. They of course thought wrong. Senator Davis won reelection in 2012 from a during a bitter campaign battle. Here’s an excerpt from the Texas Tribune’s 2012 election night article…
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, narrowly clung to her seat on Tuesday night, fending off Republican state Rep. Mark Shelton in the most-watched legislative race of the Texas election…
Her win kept Republicans from coming within one vote of the two-thirds majority needed to render Democrats virtually powerless in the upper chamber. And it gave hope to Texas Democratic Party officials, who see Davis as a rising star and a potential a statewide candidate.
The Tarrant County district was hardly a certain bet for either candidate. It has traditionally leaned Republican: Gov. Rick Perry won the district in the 2010 gubernatorial race; U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won the presidential vote there in 2008.
“I think it’s really a reflection of people wanting a bipartisan voice,” she said. “People rose above partisanship in the way they voted tonight. They voted for integrity, for a fighter.”…
Clearly with Davis, HD10 has started some new traditions.
But what happened with the previous races is critically important for Texas Democrats, and national Democrats to understand… thanks to the make-up of HD10, Wendy Davis is well-practiced for a statewide race. Her district is virtually a microcosm of it, and she has figured out what Democrats need to do in order to win there. That’s why you’re not going to see her spewing hardcore “left-wing” ideology. Instead Davis carefully speaks about Texas values, and limited, but effective government. She has carefully crafted a message that allows her to appeal across party lines and political philosophies. This is exactly why I wrote back in February that Davis is the top Democrat prospect for a statewide victory. She’s a pro at this stuff.
So I have to agree with Andrew Kaczynski over at BuzzFeed… winning statewide is “not likely” for a Texas Democrat…
But thankfully… Texas is a state that never cared for “likely”. Senator Davis, the ball is in your court.